Contributor: Miriam Kavanagh
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
Transport Canada under the Aeronautics Act and the Canadian Aviation Regulations.
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
There are three regulatory regimes in place for UAS:
- Non-recreational users (e.g. commercial users) are required to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC);
- Recreational users (i.e. modelers) are required to operate according to the terms of Interim Order No. 8 Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft (the “Interim Order”);
- Recreational users who are members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) are exempted from the conditions of
the Interim Order as long as they comply with MAAC operating rules and fly at MAAC sanctioned sites/events.
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Yes, the Canadian regulations apply only to non-autonomous UAS.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
The regulations vary according to use (recreational vs commercial) and weight.
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
The operation of model aircraft that are used for recreational purposes with total weight not exceeding 35 kg (77.2 pounds) do not have to obtain an SFOC but do have a list of operating and flight provisions. A model aircraft cannot be operated at an altitude greater than 300 feet AGL, within controlled airspace, within restricted airspace, over or within the security perimeter to a police or first responder emergency operation site, over or within an open-air assembly of persons, at night or in cloud. In addition, no person shall operate more than one model aircraft at a time; a model aircraft cannot be operated within specified distances of vehicles, vessels, the public, aerodromes, natural hazards or disasters; it must be operated within visual line of sight at all times; and it cannot be operated at a lateral distance of more than 1640 feet (500 m) from the operator’s location.
For UAS used for non-recreational purposes, whether a Special Flight Operations Certificate is needed is conditional on the weight of the UAS:
- If the UAS weighs more than 35 kg, an SFOC is required.
- If the UAS weighs less than 1 kg, there is an exemption from the requirement to obtain an SFOC as long as a number of conditions are met, including, without limitation, safe operation, minimum age requirement, liability insurance, no alcohol within 8 hours of operation, operation within continuous unaided visual line of sight contact, pilot training, etc. This exemption is valid until December 31, 2019.
- If the UAS weighs more than 1 kg but less than 25 kg, there is an exemption from the requirement to obtain an SFOC as long as a number of conditions are met, including, without limitation, safe operation, minimum age requirement, liability insurance, no alcohol within 8 hours of operation, operation within continuous unaided visual line of sight contact, pilot training, etc. The conditions for this weight category are more extensive than when the UAS weighs less than 1 kg. This exemption is valid until December 31, 2019.
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
There is currently no fee for an SFOC.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
Only through the requirement to hold an SFOC.
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
The requirement to hold an SFOC.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
There is no privacy regulation specific to UAS operation; their use is subject to existing federal, provincial, and municipal privacy laws.
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
No. Transport Canada does maintain a list of compliant UAS that meet a small UAV design standard. Use of these compliant UAS can result in an expedited application process for SFOC’s.
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
A foreign UAS operator must obtain an SFOC regardless of the use or weight of the UAS.
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
They are not regulated.
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
Not currently, but that issue is currently under review.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
The operator must ensure the safe operation of the UAS and that the airworthiness requirements of the manufacturer have been complied with.
23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?
For model aircraft:
No person shall operate a model aircraft at an altitude greater than 300 feet AGL and a lateral distance of more than 1640 feet (500 m) and always within visual line of sight.
For UAS of less than 1kg:
- No person shall operate a UAS under this exemption at an altitude greater than 300 feet AGL or further than ¼ nautical mile from the pilot’s location and always within visual contact sufficient to maintain operational control of the UAS, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to decisively see and avoid other air traffic or objects.
For UAS between 1 kg and 25 kg:
- No person shall operate a UAS under this exemption at an altitude greater than 300 feet AGL or further than ½ nautical mile from the pilot’s location and always within visual contact sufficient to maintain operational control of the UAS, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to decisively see and avoid other air traffic or objects.
For UAS of more than 25 kg:
- As set out in the SFOC.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?
Class G airspace.
26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?
Class A and Class B are prohibited. Operations in Class F restricted airspace are prohibited unless authorized by the SFOC.
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
See question 26.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
UAS operators are required to report to Transport Canada details of injuries to any person requiring medical attention, unintended contact between the UAS and persons, livestock, vehicles, vessels or other structures, unanticipated damage to the airframe, control station, payload or command and control links that adversely affects the performance or flight characteristics of the UAS, anytime the UAS is not kept within the geographic boundaries set out in the SFOC, any collision with another aircraft, anytime the UAS becomes uncontrollable, experiences a fly-away or is missing, and any other incident that results in a Canadian Aviation Daily Occurrence Report.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
The Transportation Safety Board investigates aircraft and UAS accidents.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Liability insurance of at least CDN$100,000 is required if the UAS weighs more than 1 kg. Complex operations will require more than CDN$100,000 and the amount will be set out in the SFOC.
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
Financial Support and State Aid
35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?
38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?
New regulations are proposed for UAS that weigh between 250 g and 25 kg that are operated within visual line of sight and are used for any purpose (fun, work or research). There is currently a public consultation process under way.